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Flexible cooling device made by UCLA engineers. Photo: UCLA Engineering

Researchers from UCLA and SRI International have developed a flexible, lightweight, cooling system that — if it can be mass-produced cost-effectively —could become a competitive cooling technology for small devices.

The problem: Vapor compression cooling systems used in air conditioners, cars and refrigerators are too large and bulky for much smaller applications like keeping smartphone batteries cool. Ceramic materials can be used but so far have been costly and less efficient than conventional cooling systems.

What they did: The researchers layered thin films of a polymer between two aluminum plates — one that was the source of heat (representing a smartphone battery, for example) and one that absorbed heat. As they applied and removed an electric field over the films, the polymer acts as the refrigerant — and moves heat back and forth between the plates. Repeating that process, they were able to cool a smartphone battery by more than 14 degrees Fahrenheit in 5 seconds.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

8 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.